“Mama… I’m BORED.”

“You have an entire bedroom full of toys, a whole art table full of art supplies, a hundred books you could read, and four kids in the neighborhood dying to play with you. How can you possibly be bored?”

It’s enough to make every mom roll her eyes. Yet, I can’t quite bring myself to get irritated with my daughter, not only because I’m young enough to remember what it was like to a kid, but because, even now, one of my greatest fears in life is that I’ll wind up bored.

I remember, when I was in medical school, telling people I’d probably grow bored with medicine in ten years and wind up going to law school. I figured, after ten years of practicing law, I’d maybe take up journalism or work for a publishing company.

Only eight years passed before I quit my job as a doctor, but by then, I had already started another career as a professional artist. And since then, I’ve also started writing books, blogging, and running a business as an online entrepreneur. Clearly, I was a bit prescient.

I also grew… not so much bored, but just plain unhappy… with my first marriage after four years. I broke up with my second husband on our two year anniversary. (Third time’s a charm – we’ve been together for ten years now. Phew.) I’d like to say that our relationship is working because Matt’s far from boring, but while this is true, I think the success of our relationship has more to do with my attitude than anything else. This time, I chose to focus on the good stuff, rather than complaining about the bad – a surefire way to take power over your life, rather than feeling like the victim or blaming something or someone else for being “boring.”

Boredom Is My Nightmare

When I read the book The Wisdom of the Enneagram and discovered that my personality type is a Seven, I laughed. Apparently, Sevens fear boredom more than anything and, left unchecked, create lives of constant stimulation. I felt totally busted, and realized how much control I have over whether or not I feel bored.

I mean I have the best life ever. I live on the ocean where the mountains and redwoods meet the beach in the most gorgeous place on earth. I am married to a loving, whip smart, hysterically funny, hunk-of-a-hubby. My daughter is one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. I love my mother, brother, and sister and had the best Dad in the world before I lost him. I have incredible friends. I absolutely adore my job and am blessed to get to write books, mentor visionaries, blog, create online programs, and do what I can to change the world in my own unique way.

I get to travel to awesome places. I have my health, as do those I love most.

So why in the world am I so afraid of being bored?

Embracing Gratitude

I’ve realized there’s a dark side to boredom. Boredom implies that you’re not grateful for what you already have. The shadow side of boredom is that whatever blessings you have, they’re never enough when you allow yourself to succumb to boredom. You’re always seeking the next thrill, the next win, the next love, the next source of external validation – outside of yourself.

I’ve come to realize that, as long as I’m looking outside myself for stimulation, I’ll always be disappointed. I’ve noticed, however, that when I’m able to focus on the present and approach my life from a place of gratitude, my mindset shifts from one of lack to one of bounty, and when I’m viewing my life as bountiful, I’m never bored.

Taking Risks

I’ve also realized that life starts feeling more boring when I allow my fears (I call my fears “The Gremlin”to  take charge of my life. When I feel stuck, disempowered, or victimized, I often start feeling bored. But when I remember that I – and I alone – am responsible for my life, that I always have choice, I’m able to shift back into gratitude and appreciate what I have, rather than complaining about what I don’t.

Whether what you find boring is something as big as a dead end job or a bad relationship or whether it’s as trivial as feeling bored with tedious task or waiting at the doctor’s office, remember that you’re bored – because you choose to be.

Feeling victimized – as if you can’t leave your dead end job or your bad relationship, as if you can’t choose to outsource your tedious task or reschedule your doctor’s appointment or choose to see the good in a bad situation – leaves you feeling powerless. The more powerful choice is to allow boredom to be an opportunity to either take risks and make change – or change your attitude.

Remember, you may not be able to control everything that happens to you. It’s not your fault if your plane is delayed and you get stuck at the airport without a book to read. But it’s your choice how you respond to the “boring” situation.

Many of us are afraid to take responsibility for our lives because ending the boredom would require major change. Bored in your relationship but scared to get out? Bored in your job but scared to quit? Bored at the doctor’s office but unwilling to ask to be seen sooner, reschedule, or change your attitude?

Sometimes relieving boredom requires facing what makes you unhappy and taking proactive steps to change your life. That might feel scary. Your Gremlin might go ballistic. But keep in mind, ultimately, it’s your choice.

Are You Bored?

Or are you grateful for your life as it is?

Are you afraid? And if so, what do you fear more – the monotony of boredom or the uncertainty of change?

Do you tend to stave off boredom by instigating drama, shaking things up, taking risks, moving a lot, changing relationships frequently, and pursuing various career choices?

Or do you make attempts to prevent uncertainty by choosing security, stability, and the warm comfort of the “certain” world (I use quotes because nothing in life is really certain)?

Whatever your tendency, let me reassure you, dear ones.

Whether your life is smooth sailing or choppy waters, you can always call upon your Inner Pilot Light to help you feel safe. Even when life gets monotonous, this radiant part of you will be your excitement. When life gets uncertain, your Inner Pilot Light will be your rock.

Right now, I’m at the airport, waiting on a delayed flight – again. But instead of choosing to feel bored, I’m choosing to feel grateful I have a good book, a healthy 6 year old daughter at my side, and a new puppy to take home.

Is it time to take action to make your life less boring? Or is it time to change your attitude? Tell us how you feel.

Focusing on gratitude,

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10 Comments

  1. Juliana Mary Truesdell

    Dear Lissa,

    Thank you so much for your post! It came in the nick of time. I am sitting at my desk, in my very messy bedroom and I am feeling a mess also. Yet, with what you said I am feeling a spark of hope. The word “Attitude” jumped out from your letter. Just this morning I was looking at my messy life and thinking, “Attitude is Everything!” So even before I read your post I was inspired to change…my attitude, and my life. Thank you for kick starting my “Inner Pilot Light” for me. I am turned on and revving up to clean up my act and embrace a new attitude. Thanks once again!

    Cordially,

    Juliana Truesdell

    Reply
  2. Janice Rose

    Hello, still Doctor, Rankin!

    You bet I’m grateful! My gratitude is constant for my “self/soul,” my spouse, two children and 5 grandchildren!!!!! I am so blessed that our children are fantastic parents!! And our grandchildren are
    super-stupendous in creativity, sports, and intelligence, and amazing senses of humor!!!!! Did I say
    they are gorgeous too?!!!!!
    Yet, we won’t be with any of them this Thanksgiving for a variety of reasons, thankfully, due to their
    full lives far away…but Christmas is on the horizon, & we will be w/some of them who live in our state! Yea! But I was feeling “down” rather than bored, I call it, & I needed to pep me up, hopefully
    w/some neighborhood women! So, last week, I held a “Women’s Gratitude Drumming Circle” in my home. I dropped off fliers at each of their homes, only one night before, and three women came to celebrate their “thanks” w/me. We had a blast sharing stories and our gratitudes…we laughed so hard at times…it was truly breath-fulfilling!!!! Four is a sacred Native American number, and I knew
    that the perfect people who wanted to be here would show up! I served a need that became a fun,
    gratitude!
    Then, tonight, I will be celebrating Thanksgiving/Gratitudes w/11 children and their mothers in a women’s shelter in Texas. I facilitate one of the Native American traditions w/a “Talking Stick” ceremony. All my drums, rattles, turtle shell, beads, stones, feathers, shells, and rhythm percussion
    instruments are packed in the trunk of my car and I am ready to go! To go and share w/them all the
    attributes and attitudes of Native Americans who so devoutly care for this, our Mother Earth and the
    Great Spirit of us all! This will be my 20th Talking Stick ceremony, and I always get back so much more from the attendees who come, than what I give…or at the very least, it is mutual!!!!
    On Thanksgiving day, my husband and I will have the traditional turkey meal at a lst Class “country-fied/fried restaurant” where afterwards on their front porch, we can rock our brains into the next galaxy!!
    Gratitude? It goes something like this probably misspelled Cajun saying: “Les saize le bon temps
    rouler!”
    “Happy Thanksgiving to All and may you & yours always have what matters most to you!”

    Janice Rose/The Colony, Texas

    Reply
  3. Paula Gioia

    Hi Lissa!

    Thank you for the inspiratio! Yes, I am stuck and get caught up in the victim role, yet I inspire all my friends to be proactive in their lives, easier said than done. I do practice gratitude yet I can’t get out of my own way! This article made me smile and remind me of how much I do have to be grateful for!

    Many blessings to you!

    Paula

    Reply
  4. Ellyn

    I am at that slow down point in life, I retired last year, and then lost everything and moved in order to help my son with day care while he is going to school. But I DO feel maybe not boredom but like I am treading water or I am in a holding pattern. There are a few things I can do and lots that I can’t. Once the grandchild is in school fulltime and my son gets his career started, I will be free to take off and travel or to volunteer or do any number of things. I spend time every day daydreaming of those things – and I do knitting and crocheting in order to remain calm and composed. I also walk several miles a day in order to remain healthy.

    Boredom is a terrible thing – but it does give one time to go inside and take notice of bad habits, things that need to be done etc.

    I do try to maintain my relationship with my inner pilot light – after all it is the only compass I have right now.

    Reply
  5. Midge

    Loving Lissa,

    Your perspective on boredom as a dark shadow of yours is lovely to read. Your gratitude for boredom, as it (and other shadows) teaches us so much about ourselves, our lives, our spirits.

    My own dark shadow (one of them) is selfishness, and I’ve come to know and love that part of me—my Selfish Shadow. I wrote about it recently and shared my gratefulness for it too—my Selfish Shadow is part of me, and it’s given me much over the years—self-care and love, time to reflect and meditate, and time to write, to create. It’s my buddy now, a kindred part of me I used to squelch, but now release with gratitude.

    Showing off my shadows,
    Midge

    Reply
  6. Kavita

    Lissa, today’s post was just AWESOME beyond words. Totally loved it. Thanks so much for the wonderful work you’re doing.

    Reply
  7. Charlotte

    Hi Lissa,
    I am new to your e-mails. I just read the one you talk of boredom. I friend I recently met was saying those same type of things to me of change. This is something I have been struggling with over 10 years with my marriage. There is no excitement. We married very young and children very young. I feel there are so many things out there I want to learn and experience but my husband has no interest at all. The main thing we have in common is our children and grandchildren. We do like some of the same television shows that we watch together but other than that I don’t know. I feel twisted. I want to move forward with my life but staying under the same roof with my spouse, I know he will not allow this without attitude. Your response would be greatful.

    Reply
  8. Leah Cooper

    Lissa. You are the best. I am grateful for you. Thank you for inspiring me every day.

    Reply
  9. Kelly Pietrangeli

    Thank you for this post Lissa! Such amazing food for thought…
    I’m going to share this with friends so we can discuss it further.
    You now also have me very curious to find out my personality type!

    Reply
  10. Marey

    This was a very nice post Lissa, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sounds like you and I are similar, however, I do wonder, if perceived “boredom” is in fact you, telling yourself something. For example, you’re unhappy with a dead on job, you’re bored of it and you know you can do better. It’s your way of telling yourself that there are more opportunities out there.

    Reply

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